Quinn Rose – our birth story


When I found out I was pregnant, I had really high hopes of being able to go into labor naturally. With Grace, I was diagnosed with hypertension at 35 weeks and spent the following 4 weeks on bed rest until my induction at 39 weeks. In and out of triage, countless NSTs. I desperately wanted to have a different kind of pregnancy this time… but I loved the birth experience. This time, I had these dreams of my water breaking at home, leaving Grace with one of our mamas and then booking it to the hospital to give birth, finding comfort in letting my body start on its own timing – and getting the sweet calming relief of an epidural that made a world of difference for me mentally before when things got intense.

I actively tried to do what I could to avoid an induction. I exercised between 3-5x/week up until 32 weeks when my sciatic pain became unbearable. I took baby aspirin daily at the recommendation of my doctor. At 20 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with a short cervix. I was then referred to Maternal Fetal Medicine and saw the team there 5x between 21 and 30 weeks to look for any signs of funneling or shortening to hopefully prevent premature labor. All was well and unchanging, praise God! One of the doctors at MFM had me schedule a 36 week ultrasound to check on baby girl due to my history of hypertension. I honestly thought I was in the clear.

At 35 weeks, I had a few dizzy spells and took my blood pressure at home – it was high so I called in. I was instructed to go into triage where I was monitored for a few hours. My readings were elevated, but not hypertensive. Aside from late pregnancy, my readings are always in the 110/70s range. I was sent home thankfully!

When Corey and I went into MFM for my 36 week appointment, we were hoping Q would be cooperative for the ultrasound so we could get one last peek at her before meeting her in person. Everything seemed to go well during the ultrasound. Our tech told us that the doctor would be in and left the room. She returned a few minutes later and said that there was a considerable growth decline and that the doctor wanted her to take images of the umbilical cord. She did, then left the room again. A few minutes later, she came back and said I would be getting a non-stress test for the baby. At this point, we were a little confused but not yet worried. 2+ hours after our arrival time, the doctor finally came in. He told us that it looked like there was a knot in the umbilical cord, and due to Q dropping from the 44th percentile down to the 14th coupled with my history of hypertension, he was 80% sure that “this is going to be a 37-week baby, not a 39-week baby.” At this point I was 35 weeks, 6 days pregnant! He explained that there was no absolute way to confirm the perceived knot, and that sometimes they cause no problems whatsoever, and rarely they cause big problems. This was a Friday, and he had me schedule Monday and Thursday appointments the following week to closely monitor the umbilical cord and Q’s activity. I was instructed by our doctor to also check my blood pressure twice a day at home in between appointments, since it was not following a predictable pattern during my visits to both offices.

The following two appointments at MFM, as well as my weekly OBGYN appointment, were positive – nothing changed, good flow to baby through the umbilical cord, and although my blood pressure was elevated at some points, it was not dangerous.

On Monday, at 37 weeks, 2 days pregnant, I took my blood pressure in the evening at home as I had for days prior. The reading was 170/110. I was in complete denial. I felt fine… I insisted the monitor was defective and decided not to panic until I drank more water and laid down for a couple of hours. 2 hours later, I took it again and it read 165/95. Corey pushed me to call the nurse hotline. I was instructed to go back to triage. The nurse on the phone told me that I should not drive. I STILL was in denial. I insisted that Corey stay with Grace (it was around 10pm and she was asleep) and left the house with absolutely nothing other than my purse. I was fully expecting that I made a user error or had a faulty cuff and thought I would be sent home again.

Except… I wasn’t. My readings at the hospital were consistently high. As high as 190s/120s. The doctor walked into triage and said, “We’re going to deliver you tonight.” I felt my stomach drop. She left the room, came back in, and inserted the Foley bulb. I called Corey right away. My mom was at our house for Grace within minutes and Corey was by my side at the hospital within a half hour. I was admitted, moved to a room, and was given medication through my IV to lower my blood pressure. Within a half hour, I felt the most “clear” and alert that I had in weeks. I blamed my fatigue on being pregnant but it made me realize that I probably had been having unnoticed elevated pressures for a while. I was started immediately on Pitocin. 

Induction started with the bulb at 2cm dilation around 11pm. At 2am, I was 4cm when the Foley bulb came out. I had contractions throughout the night and around 5am, they started to become regular. I didn’t get sleep, but I was in an exhausted, hazy state around 7am when the doctor came in and announced she was going to break my water. I was 5cm at this point. She broke my water – it felt so abrupt and quick (and painful) that I didn’t even process what was happening. I remember looking at Corey who had a totally shocked look on his face at how quickly things happened. I was asked if I wanted the epidural. I said yes. By 8am, I had gotten the epidural, but felt no relief from the contractions. I still could move my legs easily. I was having major back labor and at this point was not quiet about it! I insisted the epidural was not working, and was told a few times that it just took time. After about 20 minutes, the anesthesiologist was called to come back, but….

Around 8:30am, I started to completely panic when I realized that I was going to give birth without medication. I was terrified and everything was moving so fast. I felt Q move downward and recognized the feeling from my precious birth I. Lost. It. I held hold Corey’s hand and cried that I couldn’t do it as the nurses got the room ready and the midwife entered the room. I screamed through labor. At one point, the midwife asked what I was afraid of and I said “the pain” — but it wasn’t the pain. Truthfully, I remember feeling the ring of fire and thinking it wasn’t as painful as the contractions! I was afraid of this new feeling of having absolutely no control of my body or what happened next. I was afraid of the perceived knot and what it could mean for Quinn during labor. I was afraid of my high blood pressure… what was it? Am I going to have a stroke? When the midwife told me to stop pushing, I was afraid that something was wrong with Quinn and that no one would tell me since I was so emotional and panicked. But I couldn’t verbalize anything. I felt my body take over and there was no way I could stop from pushing during contractions.

Quinn Rose was born at 9:02am. I was relieved to hear her cry immediately, but when I looked down at her on my chest, her face was purple and swollen and I heard one of the nurses say that she had a fever. I asked multiple times if she was OK before I was told she was bruised (see photo). I just remember holding her and saying, “My baby, my baby.” NO knot was seen in the umbilical cord. I cry as I write this because she entered the world and met me at my weakest, but she was born so strong.

I never in a million years thought I would deliver a baby without medication! As much as I admired those who had, I thought it was something I could never do. I received compliments about my strength and about how awesome it was, but I didn’t feel strong or awesome, I felt shame! I insisted, “I had no choice!” I also felt embarrassed that my ideal birth included the epidural when many women choose and prepare for a natural labor.

What I didn’t expect in the weeks following was to have trouble processing everything. I was thankful we were healthy. I was relieved that my recovery was worlds better than my last. But I found myself obsessing over everything that happened. I would replay the screaming and fear. I would picture Quinn’s bruises and asking if she was OK without getting an answer. My heart would race and I would feel tightness in my chest and I would panic that my blood pressure was rising again. After realizing these physical responses were anxiety-related and as time passed, those feelings stopped. I never would have assumed that an unmedicated birth could be looked at as traumatic, but for me, it was – and that was a source of shame. I also thought screaming through labor and being scared made me weak. But, then I decided to take heart in what I tell Grace: you can be scared and brave at the same time. And isn’t that parenthood?

I replayed those 12 hours over and over and finally accepted that as scary as it all felt each moment, it all happened exactly as it was supposed to. Through the worries about short cervix, the perceived umbilical cord knot, her growth, all of the NSTs and ultrasounds, the high blood pressure – God already had our story written. He created and knew and loved Quinnie before we did. He brought a new closeness to our marriage that we hadn’t experienced before. He was so faithful as He always is and He held our family.

my dream home

homemaking, Uncategorized

If asked to describe my dream home a year ago, I probably wouldn’t have said it was a 1,500 square-foot rancher built in the 70s.

We found it when we were not even thinking about looking (although, isn’t that what happens when you’re married to a Realtor?). Grace was 2 and a half months old. We had just made the decision that I would leave my career to be a stay-at-home mom and I quit my job 5 days before we went to see this house. Corey showed me the MLS listing and I immediately started begging him to see it. I was convinced that if we saw it in person, I would find something wrong with it and then I could let it go of how much I liked it without thinking of it again.

Obviously, things didn’t happen that way. We went to see it that afternoon. We walked in, and Corey and I looked at each other, both of us clearly pleasantly surprised. As we toured it, we found ourselves discussing how we would decorate each room to make it ours. This would be Grace’s nursery. We would put our bed here. Corey would have his wished-for man cave basement. That storage room would become my crafting room. We didn’t want to leave! It felt right. It felt like our home.

Needless to say, we prayed and we made not one – but two – offers and we were elated to find out that we got the house over competing offers. Family and friends were totally shocked to learn we were unexpectedly moving! The next 2 months were absolute madness. In between nursing and holding a newborn, I packed boxes. We rented a storage unit to start moving stuff out of the house in advance and Corey ran boxes over in between appointments. We stayed in the guest room at my mom and stepdad’s house for almost a month while we were quite literally between homes. There were tears and sweat and stress and I don’t think either of us anticipated how hard it would be to pack, sell, move, and unpack with a newborn. Corey was under it from being a new dad and managing files, clients, closings, and showings. I don’t know how he managed all of it. But I wish I would have showed him more respect and appreciation at the time for everything he did for us. I was under it from being a new mom, nursing on-demand, and unpacking. We were both short-tempered, and it felt like we were in that phase of life for much longer than a couple of months.

But now, we both agree that it was so worth it.

When I was young, I envisioned my dream home as brand new; at least a 4 bedroom, 2-story home. Maybe the bathroom would have a jacuzzi tub. An eat-in kitchen but also a formal dining room, for, you know, entertaining. A big walk-in closet complete with a vanity. An outdoor brick oven built right into the patio.

But now? I’d say that I want a quaint home with a cozy living room and an eat-in kitchen. A house where my little one could crawl from the living room to the kitchen to the dining room and down the hall to her bedroom without touching stairs. A house big enough for us to breathe when we needed to, but small enough to be close. I’d say that’s all we’d need. And everything we’d need. A home where Corey and I would grow old together. With a backyard with enough space for Grace to run and play. Maybe a third bedroom for another baby years from now. A place where family and friends could gather around bonfires. I’d say my dream home is a 1,500 square foot rancher built in the 70s.

gracie’s party animal birthday

homemaking, motherhood, Uncategorized

8Q5A7547 (1).jpg“She wont remember it.”
“But we will!”

Corey and I had this conversation a dozen times in the weeks leading up to Grace’s first birthday party! Admittedly, I probably thought about her party way too much, but I truly wanted her feel the joy that she gives to us every day. And OK, I love to throw parties… and this was definitely the most fun and colorful one I’ve ever hosted!

We had the party at 11am to try to work around typical nap times, so we had brunch style foods. The menu consisted of ham and cheese sliders, chicken and waffle sliders, parfaits, pasta salad, deviled- and red-beet eggs. Desserts are pictured below! Sadly, when Grace woke from her morning nap that day, we noticed she wasn’t quite herself. As the party progressed, we realized she had caught a cold! We felt so sorry for her, but she was such a good sport.

Aubree Shannon graciously spent time out of her weekend to come take photos, and I am so thankful she did! Here are the photos she took of the decor, the cake smash, and a few quiet family moments!

*I purposefully left out photos of our family and friends at the party – we are planning to share those photos privately 🙂


The wreath we had hanging on our front door the day of the party! I made this with 2 large packs of balloons. sewing pins, and a styrofoam wreath mold. We already had the “G” in Grace’s room, so overall the cost to make this was around $20 (these sell for $60-75 on Etsy). What I love about a DIY like this one is that it can totally be imperfect and you honestly can’t do it wrong!


I fell in love with this print – I purchased the PDF on Etsy, had it printed at OfficeMax, and framed it in a Target snap frame. Instant downloads from Etsy are my favorite! Pom honeycomb garland is from Target also.


I made the birthday hat from scrapbooking paper, and made the tutu for around the high chair. The tutu was SO easy to make. I was shocked at the cost to purchase one– $30-50! I bought 1-inch white ribbon and 25 yards of white tulle on a spool. I wanted the tutu to be 12 inches from the top of the high chair, so I cut 24-inch pieces of tulle and looped them evenly around the ribbon using this method. It was SO easy and it was $12 for the materials.


Allow me to introduce you to JoJo, our beloved stuffed giraffe who has quickly become Gracie’s BFF. She is so limited with her words, but she will point and say “JoJo” and loves to “pet” and say good morning to her. With the party animal theme, we thought JoJo would be good emotional support for cake smash time 🙂


Balloon garland: Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Had I known what a huge pain it would be, I would have put one balloon on Grace’s high chair! It took over 4 hours… and there were 6 popped confetti balloons. CONFETTI balloons. The tutorials I looked at were not helpful and glue dots popped the balloons. I ended up super glueing in the extras last minute!



I spray-painted these Paper Mache letters white, and the 1-12 month garland was a $5 Target find! Grace’s monthly milestone pictures were taken each month with her Chloe cuddle + kind bunny that her aunt and uncle got for her for her first Christmas! If you haven’t heard of this company, check them out. 1 doll purchase provides 10 meals to kiddos in need.


These ostrich and giraffe canvas prints are not typical staples in our living room, nor did we buy them for the party! They usually have places in Grace’s play area in our basement and were purchased from Home Goods.


Found this idea on Pinterest, but wrote the poem myself. 🙂 All of the animal printables above and below were *FREE* on Caravan Shoppe!



Grace’s naked cake and cookies were made by The Paisley Pair. We were so in love with them! The animal toppers on her cake were Schleich brand. I made the party hats using this tutorial.


I saw these milk bottles on Pinterest. I thought they were so adorable. So I purchased a dozen and then last minute purchased a dozen more. Do you know how many of these were used at the party? 3! I don’t know what I was thinking. No one wants to drink room temperature milk. Please learn from me. Save your money. Save the milk. Throw the mini donuts on a plate and call it a day.



The main foods were ham and cheese sliders (which were also easy to put together the day before, then coat with the sauce and throw in the oven the morning of) and these chicken and waffle sandwiches pictured. We ordered a small catered tray of Chick-Fil-A nuggets, and I popped the waffles in the oven to put these together the morning of the party. So easy!


Since we had a ‘brunch’ hour party, we had Dunkin’ cold brew and Starbucks hot coffee. It was SO easy. I purchased these packs and made the cold brew the day before. Buying the hot Starbucks traveler boxes was worth it – no need to make pots of coffee during the party and no line for the Keurig. Plus, the boxes of coffee come with cups, lids, stirrers, cream, and sugar — and keep the coffee hot for 3 hours!


For party favors, I purchased these mini jars in the under $5 section at Target. I spray painted the lids white and superglued these animals to the top! I added some twine around the jars, and filled with frosted animal cookies.

Now for my absolute favorites…

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Trying to share the cake with JoJo!



When it was time to get Grace changed and cleaned up, Aubree came back into our bedroom and asked if she could snap photos. With the rush and constant go-go-go of the party, I was so thankful she did! These pictures ended up being my absolute favorites.

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I definitely feel like us mamas put an impossible amount of pressure on ourselves to make our kiddos’ birthday parties special. In the world of Pinterest, the ideas are so endless. There are definitely things I would have done differently in hindsight:

  • I wish I would have skipped the arch. It was honestly the only part of the party prep I didn’t enjoy!
  • I started planning Grace’s party so early. Like – 3 months before – early. It resulted in me buying various items and changing my mind so many times. The whole party truly came together in the 2 weeks before. It would have saved me so much time and saved us money if I had just waited and then committed.
  • I would have had less sweets. We had SO many leftover cookies, chocolated-dipped oreos, white chocolate-covered pretzels, mini brownies… I think the cookies and donut holes would have been plenty for the time of day!
  • I would have skipped the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches. They just weren’t super good. I loved them in theory, but they were not practical. I would have also skipped the milk bottles.
  • I regret not trying on Grace’s birthday outfit before the party. Her actual outfit lasted 5 minutes before the cute little suspenders on her denim skirt were falling off her shoulders! I was kicking myself for not picking something more practical. It’s an outfit. Not a big deal. But Corey said her shirt reminded him of this… If you know Corey, you’ll appreciate this. Ha!

The one thing that I am 100% so happy we invested in was hiring Aubree to take photos. She captured Grace’s personality so well, along with other moments of the day with family and friends. Best of all, I felt like I was truly present all day and honestly didn’t pick up my phone once. If you are on the fence about hiring a photographer for your little one’s first birthday, DO IT! And if you’re local, contact Aubree!

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the items pictured for a party, please reach out!

Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far! It was such a blessed day and it was so fun to be able to share it with you.

Dear Gracie

motherhood, Uncategorized

Dear Gracie,

You are my sunshine.

I know our little family has this routine going, and it is all you’ll ever know, but I should confess that things were not always this way. Before you, our house was a lot quieter, our Friday evenings were spent on the town, and rarely were we home, it seemed. Before you, I’d never changed a diaper. Holding newborns made me sweat. I have never been a morning person before my first cup of coffee, as my past co-workers could attest. I thrived on routine, and showed no flexibility.

But then you were here. And I was so unprepared. I knew only as much as the full day of birthing class could pack into my brain. Yet, holding you was so effortless. Changing diapers became second nature. I’m still not a morning person… and I may grumble all the way to your room if it’s time for you to nurse being the sunshine has kissed my face, but then I see your wild hair and 3-toothed smile while you bounce up and down excitedly and I find the energy from Lord knows where. And baby, you got me staying up late writing again… a passion I thought I had lost.

Being your mother has been the hardest and easiest role I’ve ever had. When it comes to loving you, getting up at all hours of the night, braving the crowds so you might get a chance to see the jelly fish swim, or starting a dozen holiday traditions because I want you to grow up with the sweetest memories with Dad and me … it is so easy, even when it’s really hard.

You are fearless and determined. You take a while to warm up before you’ll reach for someone, you must study people first. You only know how to say a few words – mama, da-da, dog-dog, no, ‘nana, yea –  and yet you communicate with us and always find a way to make your point, be it with an eyebrow raise, scrunched nose, wave, clap, or pointer finger. My goodness, sweet girl, you have got the sass, but you have also got the most innocent smile.

This year, Lord-willing, you will learn to walk. You will eat one of my chocolate-chip Christmas cookies. You will throw tantrums at new levels. You’ll push me. You will test me and challenge me and my patience in ways that I never could have imagined. And sweet daughter, I will love you for all of it, just the same – no, probably more.

I look ahead to days that will come. I think of birthdays that we will celebrate as a family. I daydream of putting your drawings up on the fridge and the times you’ll help me dry dishes in the kitchen. I dread the day you’ll come home from school with a crush. And the day you feel shame for the first time. I wonder who you will be. Whoever you become, I pray you will be God-fearing. I pray you will be happy.

I hope I can show you grace. I pray I can teach you God’s word, though I am so inadequate. I pray that you’ll know how strong you are but always act with humility. That it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. That you’ll know when to lead, and when it’s appropriate to follow, too. I hope you will be the kind of friend that people can depend on. And when the skies open, I hope you’ll look up and laugh at the raindrops like you do now. I pray you will know that I think you are magic. I pray for your health, your growth, and that when you rest your head at night, you’ll feel fullness in your belly, the warmth of your grey flannel sheets, and that you will always feel safe and loved as you close your eyes.

My Gracie, God placed you into our care and that has been a gift we absolutely cherish. You have changed us for the better.

You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.


in the eyes of my daughter

motherhood, Uncategorized

My favorite memory of the fall was taking Grace to the fair last month. We didn’t leave the house until it was close to her bedtime. It was a special night, though, a night that marks the first of many Autumn family traditions to come, so we let her stay up late this time.

We arrive perpendicular to Main Street and park the car. We take her out of her car seat and plant her on her daddy’s hip. She never stays in her stroller these days, so we don’t make an attempt at it tonight. In the eyes of my daughter, there are too many miracles happening left and right to be looking in the same direction for too long.

It was a risk, we said on the way, “hopefully she will be too distracted by everything going on to think about being tired.” We start to walk across the street, and I see her eyes brighten. A police officer is waving walkers on across the street. In the eyes of my daughter, he is dancing.

We make our way to the food stands filled to the brim with funnel cakes and French fries and soft pretzels. Scents of grease and sweets welcome us. The people inside the trucks, stands, and trailers are shouting over all of the noise. In the eyes of my daughter, they are calling out to her. She squeals and waves.

We walk to the Ferris wheel. It’s bright and blinking and spinning. We’ve been waiting to show this to her, sure that if she has no interest in anything else, this will surely catch her attention. This is the moment. She throws her hands up in the air to grab it even though it’s a at least a few dozen feet in front of her and so high, far out of reach. In the eyes of my daughter, it’s big enough and close enough to touch. Yes, in her eyes, this spinning mechanical wheel is magical and beautiful and she could catch it and watch it do the same thing over and over again for hours and her amazement would never dwindle.

In the eyes of my daughter, everything is new. A stuffed animal comes to life. A balloon beckons her touch. Every book she sees needs to be read, every page touched, every picture studied. There is excitement in the unknown of peeking inside a messenger bag or opening a cabinet door. In the eyes of my daughter, the wind teases her and the raindrops fall only to tickle her nose. In the eyes of my daughter, beds are for jumping, shoulders are for resting her head, and hands are meant for clapping in joy.

I pray that I can see life through the eyes of my daughter. That I can drink in the mundane moments and savor them. To explore and to be inquisitive. To always be captivated by the light of a Christmas tree the way that she is. To dance and laugh – really laugh – with no sense of self-consciousness. To see an instrument and stop what I’m doing to make music and admire the sound, even when it’s off-key. To see eyes and smiles of people before seeing made conclusions. To wave ‘hello’ without hesitation or fear of rejection.

Instead, I fall short daily. Too little patience, too much on my mind. Not enough play time, too much housework to do. But when I ask myself, who am I in the eyes of my daughter, I realize I am comfort, warmth, love, silliness, and playfulness. I am inviting, her soft place to land. Her source of nourishment, her release after holding it all together. Her hero, her caught kiss, her encourager, her teacher. I pray I can be the person who is seen in the eyes of my daughter.